Venice in a shoebox

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Nov 20, 2007

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Day 3 (Arrive Venice)
Pete unsure about getting vaporetto from station - seem VERY overcrowded.  Al convinces Pete that it'll be fine and ours - the number 4 - had plenty of room and was easy.  Got covered in spray taking photos.   Very excited going down the Grand Canal. An RCL ship was sailing as the train arrived and an ex Royal Viking liner (can't remember name) and Seven Seas Voyager are in port. Got off at St Mark's square.  Directions easy - find hotel and check-in. On level 3 (but felt like level 6) - look at stairs and both just laugh because they are REALLY steep and no lift.  Get to room somehow.  Enter room - somehow - because it's (quote from Pete) the size of a shoe box.  Both just laugh.  Only just enough room to walk sideways down each side and end of bed - that's it.  Pete's quite disappointed - until he opens the window and looks onto the canal - another window from bathroom with same view onto gondolas - really beautiful.  Pete's happy now, but still can't believe we have a room this small.  Head off into the St Marks square and wander around taking it all in.   Soon ready to sleep (must be at least 8:30 or 9pm). 
Day 4 (Venice)
Sleep well, because of shuttered windows and double glazing - very quite.  Breakfast is great compared with Rome hotel.  FANTASTIC croissants as rated by Al who gives them 10 stars and eats too many of them.  Al sits looking straight out at the gondolas going past on the other side of the window while eating - Pete's turn tomorrow).  We head off to wander around again. We walk over a million bridges and through parks and squares and small lanes. The Venice Bienniale (sp?) of Art is coming to and end while we are in the city but we don't enter the garden exhibition - just not enough time. We go to some quite run down areas with very few tourists and people having a social drink with neighbours (must be about 10am by now).  Eventually end up at the Rialto bridge and so does every other tourist in Venezia.  The next hour is push and shove to get back to our hotel.  Rest a bit, book water taxi for tomorrow quoted 65 to 70 euro - then head off for our walking tour.  We suspect that they'll take us to exactly the same streets places we've already been to but turns out to be on the whole not the case. In retrospect that just isn't possible in a city of what seems to be a million alleyways. Tour starts and it's run by a French lady (married to a Venetian and having lived there for 30 years).  Off we go!  We wander through many, many tiny streets - single file, one-way.  She tells us that all of the buildings in Venice are "so, so" - that they are - never more than one straight wall.  It's great for taking photos because you don't have to worry about holding the camera straight - just doesn't matter.  We have a great time walking, then go our on the gondolas - 6 people in each. Ours has 4 Australians and 2 Kiwis - can't get away from them.  We end up going down "our" canal and take pics of our hotel.  It's fun, but not the least bit romantic.  Al wonders if it's illegal to talk or text on a mobile while driving a gondola - doesn't look like it.
After the tour, we get ready for the dinner and Venetian show.  Both very tired and raid the mini-bar looking for coke.  We get to the show and bump into our new friends from the train.  Dinner is more like casual snack food, but tasty.  Show is very good, but both have trouble staying awake.  It depicts the colourful history of Venice.  Pete starts constantly tapping Al so he doesn't fall asleep.  Only just hang in without snoring.  Back to room and straight to sleep.
Day 5 (Venice - departure)
Pete confuses bidet and toilet - was bound to happen - at least he was only standing up!   Even with Pete's degree we weren't able to work out how to use it anyway.
Down the crazy "break-your-neck" stairs to breakfast.  Pete gets brekky with gondola view today.  No need to guess what Al has for breakfast (LynnG, croissants don't get any better than this - ok, maybe in France!).  Getting very comfortable with our basic Italian.  We head off to the Peggy Guggenheim - the location and story is just as great as the art. Weird wax castings that are a little freaky.  We rush to the bell tower at San Gorgio (thanks Great Outdoors for the tip) for the view over Venice. Can see Rotterdam as well as a Milennium class Celebrity liner, a Costa ship and an MSC ship.  Language confusion trying to work out which vaporetto to get on but after asking 3 people we sort it out.  Just enough time to get there and back - check out dead on time at 12pm.  Yep - somehow get the cases down those stairs, but this time make an extra trip to make sure we don't die before the cruise.
We head off to buy a few things, booze included, to take on board to save some dosh.  Al has to ask how much the wine is, but doesn't know if he's asking in Spanish or Italian - they don't care and not much different anyway.  We decide to "sneak" a bottle of Limoncello on board with the wine.  We get back to our hotel in time for the water taxi that Pete is very excited about.  Pete has lost the keys to the lock so we can't get to our passports.  He gets a "little" (under statement) angry - but eventually finds them.  We get on the taxi and 20 min later we go right past the ship as the weather starts to get worse.  On opposite sides of the dock are Millennium, Rotterdam, Costa Mediterranea and Costa Marina.  In the next dock is ex-Celebrity Zenith now with MSC. We get off and dump the bags.  Water taxi is 80 euro.  Ouch! We go up in to the terminal and get in the shortish queue, are asked if we have used online check-in, get handed a card with No. 11 on it and are told to wait until it is called.  Although there are a few spare seats, we won't take them for fear of taking a seat from someone much more in need of it than us (and there are plenty). We are both surprised that the age demographic is far more varied than we thought it would be.  Only a couple of wheel chairs and not an electric buggy in sight.  Can't imagine that the average age is more than 60.  There are even quite a few children. 
Lots of grumbling amongst the natives about how long this is taking.  I've read so much about how quick check-in is so there must be something amiss and there is - the computers are down.  They call 34 and then start again at 1.  Remember, we are 11.  Finally the magic number 11 gets called, after waiting for just on two hours, and we're in the check-in queue.  Margot, you'll appreciate the irony of this - while in the queue, the two women right behind us recognise an Aussie accent and one of them looks at us and says "You're Pete and Al" and it's Karen and her sister Mary who Pete has been corresponding with online for several months and will share two excursions with us (yes, out of 1200 passengers, small world). 
We finally board (at about 3.45) and know exactly where to go.  As we're going up the stairs an elderly gentleman has baled an officer up on deck two and is asking if there are any bigger rooms available.  He's told the ship is full.  Surely he read the brochure and knows what to expect?  Maybe not...
Up to deck 6 and open the door and WOW, the room is HUGE! (especially after the shoebox). Much bigger than our balcony stateroom on Infinity.  King size bed - everything says queen size but way bigger than our bed at home.  There is a full three seater sofa - longer than Al; it's leather and the same colour that we've just paid big bucks to change from.  See Al, someone else likes the colour.  There is so much storage and wardrobe space that we haven't got enough stuff to fill it all.  Find our personalised stationery - who will we send it to?  Also personal letters from the hotel manager.  Wonder if everyone gets them of just suite guests? Bump in to our room attendant Nai in the hallway
Lifeboat drill far more organised than we remember on Celebrity.
We wander before dinner (not until 8:30), and meet two entertaining guys from New Jersey - Dieter and his partner of 43 years Jimmy. 
When we get to our table, there are only two others there at a table for eight but it is a great table right against the sloping glass.  Our table mates are two guys from Puerto Rico - Eduardo and Lester.  They are only going through to Lisbon and are in a deluxe verandah suite.  We have a nice evening and good food and wine - yes we bought wine but won't do what we did last time and finish a bottle every night.  We'll make it last.

We wander after dinner (about 10:30).  Try to go outside but the storm that we have heard about is right over us and the ship is really moving around.  The decks are deserted and for good reason.  We can hardly open the doors because of the wind.  We cut the walk short and crash for the night. 

The verandahs have a door between them that can be opened and ours opens during the night and starts banging into the balcony furniture. Pete jams the sun lounger against it to hold it shut.  Al doesn't sleep until after 2:15 because the wine glasses are knocking together due to the rocking and rolling of the ship.  Finally Al uses his brain, gets out of bed and shifts the glasses apart and finally gets some sleep.
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Where I stayed
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